Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Jeff Sessions says budget deal 'would strip a key protection for Senate minority rights'

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Paul Ryan,Jeff Sessions,Budgets and Deficits,Spending,Patty Murray

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., is using the budget deal to get rid of a Senate procedure that strengthens the Republican minority, according to the top Republican on her committee.

"I regret to say that this bill clearly and unequivocally undermines the ability of the Senate to maintain agreed-upon statutory spending limits," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said Thursday, explaining that the deal negotiated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., limits the ability of senators to raise points of order against replacing budget cuts with tax increases. Sixty votes are needed to waive a point of order.

"Republican senators just saw our confirmation rights eviscerated when [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.] deployed the nuclear option," Sessions said. "This provision clearly eliminates a very significant power of senators to block legislation that violates spending limits."

The statement also contained what might be a sign of Sessions' irritation with how the budget conference unfolded as a negotiation between Ryan and Murray.

"Perhaps the House didn’t understand what the impact would be (as the House majority can easily waive points of order in the Rules Committee), but the Senate has used this crucial tool to block tax-and-spend bills on at least three occasions in the recent past," Sessions said.

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